U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings led the United States delegation to the African Regional Higher Education Summit held in Kigali, Rwanda from October 22 to October 24. Education officials and civil and private sector representatives from 25 African countries took part in the event.
In addition to her participation in the summit, Secretary Spellings met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame. During her trip, Secretary Spellings also visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial, where she laid a wreath in honor of the Rwandans killed in the 1994 genocide.
Ms. Spellings also visited the FAWE Girls School, where she met with students, beneficiaries of the U.S. Ambassador's Girls' Scholarship Program, administered by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
"I have been honored to lead the delegations of U.S. university presidents to nations around the world," said Secretary Spellings in a keynote address to the summit. "We have touted student and faculty exchange as a way to broaden one's perspective and experience new cultures."
During the meeting, participants addressed work that began during the Higher Education Summit for Global Development held at the U.S. Department of State in April of this year. The Africa Summit focused on the role of higher education institutions in Africa's economic growth and global competitiveness. Participants generated new ideas on improving capabilities and development in Africa, and on meeting challenges facing the higher education community in Africa.
The summit also provided an opportunity to foster mutually beneficial partnerships among participating organizations, and highlighted best practices within the higher education community. At the conclusion of the summit, USAID announced the development of the Rwanda Education Commons, a project that utilizes new technologies to connect teachers with each other and with instructional materials, to improve the quality of primary school teaching in Rwanda. Secretary of Education Spellings called the Kigali summit "an opportunity to broaden our own horizons, to learn from one another, and to become stronger partners."
In addition, USAID and Global Relief and Development Partners signed a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at strengthening democracy and good governance in Rwanda, accelerating economic growth, and improving the well-being of all Rwandans. The new partnership is looking to provide on-line instruction for teachers and counselors, as well as training for professionals in the justice sector.